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Flamborough (Carol Walkington): Week 5 – 20 September

If you ever feel like humiliating yourself and destroying any residual self-esteem you might have – and supposing there’s nothing on tv and it’s raining – I can recommend reading a verbatim transcript of yourself being interviewed, with every pause, ellipsis, fumble and hesitation left in. I’ve always rather prided myself on my ability to be coherent; it’s one of those attributes, I felt, along with my ability to sink in water and not be attracted to rotting meat, that distinguished me from the insect kingdom. No longer. If you open your window, stick your head out and listen closely, that noise you can hear is that of another illusion shattering.

A sloe day by the canal

I sounded like Boris Johnson’s inebriated twin brother, only with less Greek. It fell about on this wise. I was being interviewed by a student whose dissertation was on visual impairment in the cultural sector, a subject I am, alas, well qualified to talk about. Or so I thought. At the time, God help me, I thought it went rather well. That lasted until I read the actual transcript… A typical utterance went something like this:

“Well, the, er, the, er, the thing about, er, visual, ah, visual impairment is, of course, that, ah, the, um, the, ah, traditional model of a, ah, a, uh, librarian, or even an, uh, an, ah, an archivist is that they are expected to, uh, to, uh, to, as it were, to-to-to, ah, to read the materials that they, as it were, they, er, they have, you know, in their, in their, er, in their, uh, their keeping…”

Trees by the river

But let us draw a veil over the rest and hastily turn our attention back to the much safer world of ganseys. I am at the top of the back, negotiating the topmost diamonds with all the aplomb of a steeplejack trying to position a weathercock on top a church spire in a gale. In fact, I’ve adopted the common Caithness practice of running the pattern up the shoulder straps, which is a nice variant of ridge and furrow (and avoids the awkwardness of a half-diamond at the top, hem-hem).

Narrowboats at Gayton marina

Meanwhile, after my recent experiences I find myself wondering about birdsong, given we are told it too is a form of communication. I now picture the blackbird in our garden merrily trilling something along these lines: “I say! This is my, er, my, ah, my patch, doncherknow, my, ah, my actual territory, so to speak, and, er, yes, so you chaps jolly well, ah, clear off, and, er, if there are, you know, any blackbirdettes, of the, of the, uh, the female persuasion out there, well, er, you know, we could, as it were, um, well, let’s just say if you play your, ah, cards right, some nesting could be, er, could possibly be involved…”

12 comments to Flamborough (Carol Walkington): Week 5 – 20 September

  • =Tamar

    The blackbird reminds me of opera, the one time I heard some of it. I tried to follow along with the printed words. I finally realized that they had been singing the same three words for two minutes, and it would take close to half an hour to get to the end of the sentence. But they still say opera is great storytelling.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, as a wise man once said, no opera ever survives because of the libretto or the staging – it’s the music, of course, that makes it work. I think Richard Strauss once set a receipt to music to prove the point (and as the composer of some of the most beautiful operas ever written, I guess he’d know!)

  • Dave

    Keep taking the tablets Gordon and don’t worry about it. I’m sure I was just as bad in my twenties but with more expletives.

    We are enjoying the blog.

    Hope things are well with both of you.

    • Gordon

      Cheers Dave. Luckily I have next to no self esteem, so there’s no harm done! And I’m fine if I’m giving a talk to an audience – most of the time I’m pretty good value, and it seems to go down well – but I think the next time someone says, Do you mind if I just record this conversation? I think it’ll be a resounding No! from me… 😀

  • Meg Macleod

    i just learnt of the true value of lemon balm which grows with great freedom in my garden.it has been admired but undervalued for years.Notanylonger.

    for far too long likewise your talents as a comedian have flourished without due attention and appreciation

    we all know you are a master craftman and will be archived as such….please do something with your wit to lift the spirits of those not zoomed into the gansey circle.its too good to let it go to waste.

    • Gordon

      Why thank you, Meg, that’s very kind of you. It’s true, the readership of the blog is vanishingly small – some weeks we could meet in my upstairs bathroom – but at the moment it still amounts to several hundred a week. Not enough to see us being bought out by Google for a small fortune, but enough to make it more or less worth the mental anguish every Sunday!

  • Lois

    Gordon, you underestimate yourself. I look forward every Monday to starting the week off with a sample of your wit and more beautiful photos. Add the latest gansey in progress to your pearls of wisdom, and who could ask for more?
    Having been interviewed myself, I cringe likewise.

  • Gordon

    Hi Lois, as ever, you’re very generous with your praise, thank you. Guess I’d better put another shilling in the meter so there’s enough energy to get us through next week!

  • Lynne Brock

    Ditto to all of the above – your blog is read and enjoyed every week, and sometimes it’s the only ‘laugh-out-loud’ until the following week, and it’s also my ‘art gallery’ in the beauty and composition of your craft. Your readers hold you in high esteem.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne, and thank you, though now it looks like I’m fishing for compliments! As of course I am. The sad truth is, these thoughts pass through my mind all the time; it’s having the discipline to actually write them down that’s the tricky part…

  • Bridget

    Hello Gordon,
    So why is it, um, we can’t hear ourselves, um when talking, but can, um, hear, um, others when THEY are talking? Drives me, um, nuts!

    • Gordon

      Ha, hi Bridget – the poet Burns, as so often, said it best; “ O, wad some Power the giftie gie us/ To see oursels as others see us!” I think you can add “hear oursels” to the list…

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